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HERS Breast Cancer Foundation Offers Thanks for Your Giving!

December 11, 2012

More than anything else this holiday season, Vera Packard, M.D., is especially grateful for an increase in community support and donations to the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF) located in the Washington Women's Center at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

"It was a high point of the year for us to be recognized by our community for making a difference in the lives of breast cancer survivors," says Dr. Packard, who spent 20 years as a breast cancer surgeon in Brazil and has served as Executive Director of HBCF for the past four years.

"We heard from many groups and individuals in the community who said they were interested in supporting a local service for breast cancer patients, rather than large national organizations," she notes. "Their contributions would be merely a drop in the bucket for some larger organizations, but for us, the money we raise goes a long way in serving the women of our community."

Some of the highlights of the year's fundraising efforts included:

KEEP ABREAST Walk/Run

HBCF held its 13th annual KEEP ABREAST Walk/Run event at Quarry Lakes East Bay Regional Park in Fremont on September 29. This community fundraising event included a celebration of life, music, barbeque and an exposition featuring various HBCF sponsors.

"This was truly an inspirational event," Dr. Packard says. "With our increased visibility in the community, the event attracted Golden State Warriors guard Charles Jenkins, who walked with his mother, a breast cancer survivor. We raised over $100,000 thanks to the efforts of more than 1,000 event participants and 200 volunteers, including many local high school students. Our Community Expo featured 30 local vendors and organizations."

Fundraising from Alaska to South America (A2SA)

Just days before the KEEP ABREAST event, Dr. Packard, Development Director Karen Jackson, and other staff members and volunteers at the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation met with two courageous young men who had decided to take the journey of a lifetime.

"Neil Walsky and Jesse Frechione were biking from their home state of Alaska all the way to South America to raise funds for us," Dr. Packard explains. "Walsky is leading this endeavor after experiencing his mother's challenges and triumph of surviving breast cancer. He was by his mother's side as she struggled to get essential products that insurance didn't cover, such as lymphedema and post-mastectomy garments. This is what immediately attracted Walsky to us and our mission to help women with or without insurance, regardless of financial situation, to obtain the necessary post-surgical products and services."

Walsky is a recent college graduate in civil engineering and an ex-pro Switzerland hockey player. During their lifetimes, he and Frechione had racked up fewer than 1,000 miles on a bike between the two of them. Both believe, however, that this challenging adventure only adds more inspiration to their mission and increases their determination and passion to raise money for HBCF.

Walsky and Frechione embarked on their journey on August 23rd and have biked through Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon and California. They currently are cycling through Mexico. From Mexico, they will ride through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama before wrapping their journey up in Columbia. The entire journey will total roughly 7,000 miles.

The A2SA riders have been featured in various news reports, including: Huffington Post, Huffington Post Canada, Huffington Post San Francisco, Good Morning San Diego, Fremont Patch, Bike World News, Bike198 and KTVU. To sponsor the cyclists, visit http://alaskatosouthamerica.com/sponsor-cyclists/. All funds raised will go directly to the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Support

"This year, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, several different local groups and organizations generously focused their efforts on raising funds for us," Dr. Packard says.

Local organizations, schools and companies who contributed to HBCF during Breast Cancer Awareness Month included:
* Panera Bread
* Castlewood Ladies 18-Hole Golf Club
* The Skyettes/Skywest Golf Course
* James Logan High School
* Washington High School
* Newark Memorial High School
* Irvington High School
* Our Lady of Guadalupe School
* District 10 Car Show
* Fremont Fire Department
* Yelp!
* Moffett Towers Club
* Acacia Creek Retirement Home
* Longaberger
* Barberia Hair Salon
* M Salon
* Pyramid Alehouse Brewing Company
* O'Glory Organic Spa Products

Your Support Helps Support Women in Our Community

"We offer a comprehensive array of services to help breast cancer patients and survivors feel good about themselves again after they've experienced the pitfalls of breast cancer," says Program Director Polly Sherman, RN. Services offered by the foundation include:

* Bras for Body and Soul - Private fittings for attractive post-surgery bras, camisoles and prostheses in a comfortable setting and compassionate environment. All fittings are provided by one of the program's four professional breast-care specialists.

* Hair with Care - A wide selection of wigs to help breast cancer patients and other women going through chemotherapy cope with disconcerting hair loss. The wigs can be custom-styled by the program's two wig consultants to suit each woman's style preferences.

* Lymphedema Project - This project provides upper-body compression garments to treat the swelling caused by lymphedema, which can result from removing lymph glands during breast cancer surgeries. Some insurance companies including Medicare do not cover these garments therefore our project offers them at a substantial discount to breast cancer survivors.

* We Support, You Survive - A program to provide post-mastectomy undergarments to underserved women who are not covered by health insurance or cannot afford these products because of other circumstances.

"In addition to an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the support of our community, I also feel a huge sense of responsibility to continue our work to serve more and more women in our community who face the struggle of battling breast cancer," Dr. Packard emphasizes. "This is important work that we are all doing together."

Appointments for HERS Breast Center Foundation services are strongly encouraged, 510-790-1911. For more information about the foundation, visit www.hersbreastcancerfoundation.org.

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